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Kathryn Gentry

Heart Transplant - 05/2009

In 1966 I was diagnosed with Congenital Mitral Stenosis by Dr. Robert Leachman. I had the honor of receiving my first artificial mitral valve from Denton Cooley in 1972, at the tender age of five, and at the time I was the youngest person to ever have this surgery. The valve was changed out again in 1978 and in 1982. In 1982 doctors said my heart was weakened so much that it was a miracle I was even alive.

I say it’s a testament to my extremely strong will to LIVE! However, the first of many pacemakers had to be inserted. In 1989 I started having arrhythmias and was put on large doses of Amiodorne. In 1990 I went into ventricular tachycardia, full blown cardiac arrest with my body purging and preparing to shut down.

Fortunately due to the very skilled hands of the Paramedics of the Houston Fire Department I was rushed to St. Luke’s where they got me back in tip-top shape. Other than normal pacemaker battery changes I remained in good health until 2004 when I went into V-Tach again. This time the doctor’s felt it was time to put in a Pacemaker/Defibulator (AICD). Throughout 2004, 2005, and early 2006 I experienced several more episodes of V-Tach having to be taken to by ambulance (HFD all over town got to know me real well) to St. Luke’s each time.

In June of 2006 I had multiple episodes of V-Tach and the AICD repeatedly shocked me 51 times. Doctors performed an ablation to remove years of scar tissue from my heart in an effort stop the V-Tach. However, the V-Tach continued through different pathways and by December my health declined so much that I was no longer able to work. In February of 2007 the Doctors said the AICD had recorded over 2,631 episodes of V-Tach; no shocks this time just Anti Tachycardic Pacing (ATP). Another ablation was performed plus a new AICD. This time after the ablation I developed Aortic Insufficiency and needed to get on the transplant list.

In November 2008 I was hospitalized with a serious lung infection, malnutrition, and a grim outlook. I had to have a tracheotomy and feeding tubes. I also developed bed soars which required surgery. I had to fight harder than I have ever fought before to get well but, I had the constant encouragement of family, St. Luke’s nurses, Heart Exchange volunteers Like Rebecca and Randy, and Brother Fred Stovall. I worked hard at re-learning how to swallow and walk, and by early May I was walking a mile a night in St Luke’s 12th floor hallways just to prove to the Doctor’s that I was strong enough for a transplant.


...On May 21st my Mom, who had been by my side the entire time got word that a heart had been found and, on May 22nd due to the love and selflessness of family I may never know, I was blessed with a chance at a life like one I’ve never known before. On June 12 after seven and a half months I was finally released from the hospital.

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